July 07, 2010

The Budget Diva Goes Organic

On a budget friendly blog such as this, many people might ask "How can you afford to buy organic?" It's true, these products do carry a slightly higher price tag, but after a tour of the Stonyfield organic farms in Vermont, I am asking myself "How can you afford not to buy organic!"
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to participate in a "Barnstorming" Tour along with three other bloggers. (From left to right: Valerie, Anne, Tina and Me) The wonderful people over at Stonyfield organized the event to educate us (and in turn, our readers!) about the organic farming process. Stonyfield is dedicated to organic living and producing healthy food. I have to say, after a few days of learning about the organic farming process versus conventional farming, I am convinced!

I took so many photos on this trip and there were too many to post here! Check out the galleries on Facebook: Farm Photos and Factory Photos. If you want to really experience the "Barnstorming" Tour for yourself, check out this video with highlights from the trip.

The truth is, cheap food comes with hidden costs. From heavily fertilized corn to conventionally farmed meats packed with antibiotics, these unhealthy calories are getting passed on to you. We learned so much about the organic process, but there was one thing that really stuck with me from this trip. If you ask a conventional farmer about the lifespan of their cows, he will often tell you around 4 years. When you ask an organic farmer the same question, he will proudly point out cows who are 14 years old. All without fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. Our health and our lifespan mimics what we consume. I would rather live a long, happy and healthy life just like these organic cows! To me, it is worth a few extra dollars here and there on a grocery bill.

Upon returning from Vermont, I came home to a sparse kitchen and discovered some bread had gone stale while I was away. In true "Budget Diva" spirit, I poured through my new Stonyfield Organic Yogurt Cookbook for a bread pudding recipe!

*Budget Diva Tip: Never get rid of stale bread. It is perfect for bread pudding!

Start by trimming the crusts off of the stale bread.

Butter the bread, slice in half and layer with raisins in baking dish.

Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Pour custard mixture over the bread and let stand at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

I love that the bulk of the preparation can be done in advance! When you are ready, bake the bread pudding at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Pour the warm yogurt topping over the cooked pudding. I used the Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt and then added honey, but I bet you could use their Oikos Honey Greek Yogurt too!

I chopped up some walnuts and then sprinkled them on top. Check it out! Now that is a creative use of stale bread and a great way to incorporate a few of the Stonyfield organic ingredients!

Bread Pudding with Warm Honey Yogurt Topping

8 slices of bread, preferably slightly stale
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup raisins
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Warm Yogurt Topping
2 tablespoons honey
chopped walnuts (optional)

Lightly grease a 9-inch round or 8-inch square baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Cut the crusts off the bread slices, then butter the bread slices on one side. Cut each bread slice in half, then layer the bread in the prepared baking dish butter side facing up. Sprinkle with raisins.
Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, if using, and vanilla. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and let stand at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook the pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pudding until done, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. When you poke it with a knife, the knife should come out clean. Cool slightly.
To make the topping, heat the honey and yogurt in a double boiler, stirring frequently with a whisk. Keep the water boiling for 1 to 2 mintues, then turn off the heat, so as not to overcook the yogurt. Pour it on top of the warm pudding. Top with chopped walnuts, if desired.

*Budget Diva Tip: If you don't own a double boiler (or don't want to splurge for one!) take two pots, pour water halfway up one of them and bring to a boil, then place another pot with the yogurt mixture above the boiling water and heat the mixture, stirring frequently with a whisk.

What are your thoughts on organic farming? Leave a comment here and you will be entered to win a Stonyfield prize package! Including coupons for free yogurt and even an awesome toothbrush made with recycled Stonyfield yogurt cups!

Print this post


Brett said...

A*W*E*S*O*M*E! Loved the video--makes me want to buy a cow! We have room for a few chickens here at Kraemer House and hope to some day soon.

You hit the nail on the head with knowing where your food comes from, and that can be as easy as planting a patio garden if space is limited--it's as easy as a pot, some soil, and a seed! We are fortunate to have the space for a large garden and we eat fresh out of the garden when the season permits and freeze, can, and dehydrate, to enjoy later.

Thanks for sharing your adventure! We really can't afford *not* to eat as organic as possible!

Brett Youmans


Kristina The Budget Diva said...

Thanks so much Brett! I was totally ready to take home a pet cow myself :) I learned one very cool trick if you do happen to get some chickens. Apparently, the chickens "fertilize" (if you know what I mean...) the soil in a way that is really good for tomatoes! So if you do get some chickens and put them in a certain area, then the following season you can plant some fantastic tomatoes there!

Anonymous said...

Kristina--this is a terrific blog entry and I love that you are spreading the good word! Had I known you were at Stonyfield I could have jumped in the car and met you in a few hours. Congratulations on the success of your big adventures--I love getting the updates on FB with the recipes and sorry I missed you in New York! Laurie Lufkin

Ronna said...

Your bread pudding looks fantastic, Kristina! I copied the recipe to try it. BTW, I do grow my own veggies in the summer and I feel like that is somewhat organic. I love to go out and just eat some raspberries or cherry tomatoes right from the vine. Some people find that gross, but, I think that's the healthiest! :D

Kristina The Budget Diva said...

Laurie! I had no idea you were so close! It is worth a trip up there someday. Their products are soooo good :) Glad you enjoy the FB page too. We love seeing your comments!

Kristina The Budget Diva said...

Hi Ronna! I think growing veggies in the summer counts...it is the ultimate in "locally grown" produce :) It's great that you eat right off the vine, that's what I used to do all summer growing up. Glad you liked the bread pudding!

Roxanne said...

Twenty years ago I was sitting in the dentist's office waiting for a root canal job and saw an ad for a yogurt contest sponsored by Stonyfield. I entered and was a winner, the prize being their yogurt cookbook. I have used it so much over the years it is literally falling apart. I have enjoyed seeing their company grow and prosper. Living in northern California I am lucky to be able to grow most of my fruits, vegetables and herbs year round without insecticides or pesticides. It is so much fun to walk out into the garden and decide the day's menus from what needs to be picked. Kristina, I enjoy following all your culinary adventures from city to country.

Kristina The Budget Diva said...

That's so great to hear, Roxanne! It really is a fantastic cookbook. Do you remember your winning recipe? I would love to see it and make it at home :) I love to hear about home gardens and it is always fun to see the photos of your beautiful produce on facebook.

Jen said...

After some I'm-too-young-for-this health problems, finding money in the budget for organic, thoughtfully-produced food has been a priority at our house. Cancers are on the rise in young people, and I have to believe that a huge component of that is the crud that has increasingly polluted our food supply over the past 50 years. I try not to be too soapboxy about it, but here, with likeminded people, I have to ask why anyone would sacrifice their health for a few bucks? Plus, produce and dairy taste SO MUCH BETTER when produced thoughtfully.

Kristina The Budget Diva said...

I totally agree, Jen! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

MsZin said...


I found your blog via your mom's blog, which is one of my favorites.

My husband and I made the switch to organic about 10 years ago. I think we're both healthier without the additives, preservatives, artifical colors and flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, etc., in our lives. This year, I decided to plant an organic vegetable garden full of colorful and unusual things. It's been a great experience. I love the direct connection to the food we're eating. So much so that we're going to convert the unused property at our business into a communal organic garden for our employees as part of our wellness program. We also joined a CSA-type group for locally and naturally raised meat, poultry, and eggs. We're also looking into buying a cow share for access to raw milk.

Yes, our grocery bills are higher, but I think the benefit to our health is worth the extra cost.

Great blog, by the way.

Madonna (aka msZin)

Kristina The Budget Diva said...

Great to hear from you, Madonna! Wow, your commitment to organic, healthy living is phenomenal. I had raw milk for the first time on this trip and it sure was delicious! Glad you enjoy both of our blogs!

Paige said...

That bread pudding does look amazing...although i might try it without the raisins :)

Kristina The Budget Diva said...

Thanks Paige! You can substitute dried cranberries or blueberries for the raisins, or just leave them out if you like!

Cristina - TeenieCakes said...

I like the idea of using Greek yogurt with honey as a topping. Such a great idea! I'm going to definitely give that a try for other things, as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristina!
I just found your blog via the "people to follow" feature on Twitter (SO useful!) and I love your tips! The pudding looks delicious. Have a great weekend! :)

petitecarousel said...

thank you SO much for the bread pudding idea & recipe! I have 2 loaves of stale bread sitting in the fridge and wasn't sure what to do with them. Now I know! =)

lubos said...

Hey there, thanks the follow on Twitter! Great recipe! Have you seen my grandma's bread pudding recipe on slovakcooking.com? It's quite similar to yours but she starts by mashing up the old bread in milk. We also use grated apples. Those are the best. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. This bread pudding is eaten as main course in Slovakia, typically following some sour soup.

Spicie Foodie said...

Your recipe sounds so mouthwatering, that would be such a great weekend treat for me. I think Organic farming is great and hope that more and more farmers jump on board. It is healthier food that more people need to have access to. Hopefully the prices would come down so that everyone can have a better option. Plus it helps the environment so I see it as a win win for all. Great post!

Antonella-Vera55 said...

hello Kristina,I'm agree with your proposals and ideas.Thanking you for following me on Twitter,I wish you a fantastic Sunday e a great Thanksgiving Day,a big hug from Italy

Acacia said...

This is a great recipe idea! Looks delicious.

T. Katz said...

Cannot wait to try this recipe -- and others you've featured!

Also happy to find a cheerful cheerleader for organics... to lead one who is TRYING to walk that walk without going broke. Thank you for that!

Michelle Joni said...

Wow... awesome post, and YUM!

Jenny said...

I think that organic farmers have to have such dedication and conviction! Organic farming is so important and I love Stonyfield farm for being one of the companies that paved the way for others.
I would love to win this prize package!

thesoutherninstitute at gmail dot com

Lisa said...

I love that this is a healthier version. I just LOVE bread pudding but never make it. Just might be giving this a try this weekend.

Post a Comment